Static: wednesday, August 22, 2002
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Hello Out There

There’s a vote Saturday in the race for Fort Worth school board president that’s stirring up so little dust it makes Static wonder if this old town has turned into The Truman Show.

Is everybody so happy with what’s been happening on this board’s watch that it doesn’t matter who the next president is? Do voters like the two-year FBI investigation of probable public corruption that has turned the district inside out? Or Supt. Tom Tocco getting $1.8 million in salaries for his top-heavy administration and millions on poorly thought out computer math programs, then declaring a budget crisis and cutting programs that actually do work? (Not to mention his own hefty raise.) And speaking of math, don’t forget that funny arithmetic when Tocco tried to make a 50 percent drop-out rate look like 2 percent.

Lynn Manny, widow of former board president Garry Manny, is seeking to replace him in that job and carry on his work on the bond program, she’s said; Robert Gwozdz, a former school district employee who’s bitter over his firing, is hitting the board for settling an old lawsuit with Southwestern Bell for $5 million when they could have gotten $60 million in court, he says; T.A. Sims, a sitting board member has a vague message about making sure that “every child gets an equal education.” None of those folks returned Static’s phone calls, but a fourth candidate did — Patrick West, a board outsider with kids in the schools and some interesting ideas.

West wants to make board meetings more user-friendly and open the whole process up to more public debate, not less, as this board has become famous for. But West’s critical issue, he told Static, is the education of the kids in the middle-school and high-school grades who are falling through the cracks.

“We’re concentrating far too much on the elementary grades,” he said, “because Dr. Tocco wants to have pretty charts that show academic progress in TAAS scores. But at the same time, we’re not pushing the programs that will keep kids in school once they’re out of 6th grade, or the high school academic programs that will get kids into college. Down the road, this community will pay for such neglect.

“The corruption in the bond program is out of our hands now,” he said. “It will be decided by the FBI. So the only real issue in this race is the kids.” Hasn’t it always been?

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